San Diego Padres: Catcher prospects
By Cheri Bell
A thorough look at the catchers currently in the San Diego Padres minor league system, each possible future catchers for the big league club.
When Austin Hedges was drafted and started his pro career, Padres fans heard about his advanced defensive ability from day one. His progress through the minor leagues was fairly quick for a high school catcher, making his major league debut in 2015 and becoming the full time starter this season at the age of 24. The Padres control Hedges until 2023 at which time he will become a free agent if not signed to an extension.
The only question was regarding whether he would hit enough to keep himself behind the plate. His current numbers suggest that he will be just fine. His batting line of .222/.268/.417 is very close to the acceptable numbers for a defense first catcher. His 11 home runs and 36 RBI are icing on the cake and an indication that he could hit 15- 25 homers per year as he develops.
Behind him are few options in the upper minors with Rule V draftee Luis Torrens being his primary back up at the major league level.
The Padres drafted three catchers in the upper rounds of the 2017 draft, all from high school baseball, and hope that at least two of them can develop into complete players.
Following are the five catchers considered possible prospects in the system.
Austin Allen- 23 years old, 6-4 225lbs, Bats-L, Throws-R. Drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 draft.
In 61 games with Lake Elsinore, Allen has 8 HR and 33 RBI with 16 2B. His .253/.341/.431 batting line is below what he was able to accomplish in Fort Wayne last season but still shows his potential as a power hitter. He is a hit first catcher with a potential for average defense which probably means he will be a platoon/ back up catcher or a DH with an American League team.
Related Story: San Diego Padres: 1B prospects
AJ Kennedy- 23 years old, 6-0 190lbs, R/R. Drafted in the 30th round of the 2015 draft.
Never considered a hitter when drafted, Kennedy is a defense only catcher who is valued for his ability to work with pitchers and provide plus defense. In his two full pro seasons he has hit only .233 at his highest point with 4 HR and 49 RBI over all three seasons played.
He will likely be moved around the minor league system as he matures to provide plus catching skills to developing pitchers.
Jonny Homza- 18 years old, 6-0 185lbs, R/R. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2017 draft out of Alaska.
A bat first player who has a textbook swing according to his high school coach, Homza played third base, shortstop and even pitched during his amateur career. The Padres drafted him as a catcher, though he does not have catching experience in his background. A quick look at the early Arizona Rookie league stats show he has played both catcher and third base in their early season.
It will be interesting to see if he can develop a consistent defensive position and if his bat continues to develop through the minor league system.
Related Story: Who is Dillon Overton?
More from Friars on Base
- Jurickson Profar free agency update likely rules out Padres reunion
- Fernando Tatis Jr. may not take to outfield move after Xander Bogaerts addition
- Padres News: Fernando Tatis Jr. trade rumors, Seth Lugo chase, Manny Machado
- Padres barely missed out on high-end veteran starting pitcher
- This veteran DH target seems ideal for contending Padres roster
Blake Hunt- 18 years old, 6-3 200lbs, R/R. Drafted in the compensatory round (2nd) of the 2017 draft.
This Southern Cal native really bolstered his chances in the draft when he added 20lbs of muscle and worked hard on his technique before the 2016-2017 season. He is a defense first catcher who has just started developing his bat but has a strong arm.
Luis Campusano-Bracero- 18 years old, 6-0 200lbs, R/R. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft.
Considered the best catcher in the draft, Bracero has a plus arm, plus raw power and plus defensive skills. He is the most likely of the group to stick at catcher and develop into a major league starter.
Next: Tempers flare over.....??
All three of these youngsters are in the two Padres Arizona Rookie league teams to start their pro careers. The rookie season is short and their progress will be reported as they progress.